Your browser is not supported or outdated so some features of the site might not be available.

The 5 Best Cameras For Portraits - Fall 2023 Reviews

Best Camera For Portraits

While the latest smartphones can manage some pretty impressive portrait photos, the artificial background blur generated by your phone's 'portrait mode' doesn't compare to the background separation you can achieve with a dedicated DSLR or mirrorless camera and a proper lens. If you're looking to start shooting high-quality portraits, thankfully, there's no shortage of excellent cameras to suit every budget and experience level. If you're just getting started, you should know that lighting, lenses, and composition will matter just as much as, if not more than, the camera body you use. That means that the best camera for portrait photography will be the one that's most easily available to you, so you can get out and start practicing sooner.

While a full-frame camera will make it easier to get the background blur and bokeh favored by portrait photographers, an APS-C or even Micro Four Thirds option with the right lens can still get you fantastic results. Although a high megapixel count is great if you're making prints, don't put too much stock in how many megapixels your camera has—most modern digital cameras offer more than enough to capture fine detail, especially for online sharing.

Having said all that, we've bought and tested over 90 cameras in our lab, and below, we've narrowed down the best cameras for portraits so you don't have to. If you're looking for more well-rounded options for different kinds of photography, check out our best cameras for photography article instead. If you're specifically after a full-frame model, you can also check out our best full-frame mirrorless cameras. If this is your first camera, you might want to check out our best cameras for beginners instead.

  1. Best Camera For Portraits

    Though it might be overkill for some, the Sony α7 IV is one of the best enthusiast cameras on the market. With a 33-megapixel full-frame sensor, it's a great choice for high-quality portrait work, whether making prints or sharing your work online. The camera's also very well-built, has many customization options, and comes with dual SD card slots if you prefer to keep a running backup. Plus, it has a fantastic autofocus system with sophisticated eye AF for precise focusing and in-body image stabilization (IBIS) that comes in handy when shooting handheld in dimmer lighting.

    There are a plethora of third-party lens options available, along with plenty of excellent native lenses from Sony, giving you many options to choose from for portrait work. The Sony FE 85mm f/1.8 offers much value if you're looking at native lenses, but don't overlook third-party options from manufacturers like Tamron or Sigma. Overall, it's a fantastic hybrid camera, but if you're more strictly shooting portraits, the Sony α7 III is still an excellent camera with a lower price point. It has a lower-resolution sensor and uses an older version of Sony's AF system.

    See our review

  2. Best Upper Mid-Range Camera For Portraits

    If you think the Sony α7 IV is, in fact, overkill for your needs—and your wallet—the Fujifilm X-T5 is another fantastic choice for portraits that will save you a bit of money. Though it has a smaller APS-C sensor than the Sony camera, it's one of the highest-resolution crop sensors on the market. At 40 megapixels, it can capture incredibly detailed photos and gives you plenty of leeway to crop and edit your portraits if needed.

    Although full-frame cameras have an advantage when it comes to bokeh, it's still possible to get creamy backgrounds and shallow depths of field with an APS-C sensor. It helps that Fujifilm offers some very fast X series lenses that are ideal for this. The XF 56mm F1.2 R or the remarkably wide-aperture XF 50mm f/1.0 R WR, for instance, will get you some nice bokeh and have full-frame equivalent focal lengths that are well-suited to portrait work. These are pricy lenses, however, so you might be all set with the slightly more affordable XF 35mm f/1.4 R or even cheaper third-party options from brands like Sigma and Tokina.

    See our review

  3. Best Mid-Range Camera For Portraits

    The Nikon Z 5 is a great mid-range option if you want a full-frame camera at a lower price point. This is a steal of a camera, especially if portrait photography is your priority. It isn't as versatile for sports and action photography because of its slow max burst rate, but its high-resolution sensor captures stunning image quality. Nikon's ergonomics are also fantastic, and the camera feels sturdy and well-built, with a high-res EVF and tilting screen. Battery life is also great for a mirrorless model.

    Nikon's Z-mount lenses are also excellent, though lens selection is more limited than what's available for Sony models like the Sony α7 IV above or the Sony α6400 below. The S Line, in particular, offers high-quality glass that will impress. Though expensive, the Nikon Z 85mm f/1.8 S is the best choice for portraits if you want to go all-in on the Z system. Overall, the Z 5 is an excellent camera that offers tons of value for portrait photographers.

    See our review

  4. Best Budget Camera For Portraits

    If you're on a tighter budget, the Sony α6400 is a great mirrorless option to get you started in portrait photography. It's a portable crop-sensor camera with a sturdy build and a high-resolution APS-C sensor. Its ergonomics pale compared to the Nikon Z 5, but some people may find it's worth the trade-off for added portability. It also has a lot of customization options to tailor the controls to your preference.

    Another standout feature of this camera is that it uses the same lens mount as the higher-end Sony α7 IV, so you'll have access to the same stable of great lens options, including full-frame FE and crop sensor E lenses. The kit lens is fine to cut your teeth on if you're just starting, but a lens like the Sigma 56mm f/1.4 DC DN is an excellent third-party option for portraits if you outgrow the kit lens, though there are many other options at different price points. On top of that, you have Sony's ever-reliable autofocus system with precise eye AF, making this a versatile camera that won't break the bank.

    See our review

  5. Best Cheap Camera For Portraits

    If you're looking for a cheap dedicated camera for portraits, the Canon EOS Rebel T7 / EOS 2000D is about as cheap as it gets, short of buying from the used market. It's an incredibly simple DSLR with an easy-to-use interface and minimal physical controls. You won't find extra features like weather-sealing or even a tilting screen here, but it has a solid 24-megapixel sensor that, paired with a decent lens, can get you great results on a budget. There are also some relatively affordable lens options for the EF-S mount, including the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8, which is one of the best bang-for-your-buck lenses out there.

    If you want to stretch your budget a little, the slightly pricier Canon EOS Rebel SL3 or Nikon D3500 are great options with better processors and sturdier builds. The Nikon even has a built-in Guide Mode to walk novice users through the basics of photography. But if you're on a very tight budget or want to spend more of your money on lenses, the T7 is an accessible camera that makes for a good starting point for "proper" photography.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Canon EOS 5D Mark IV: The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV is a pro-grade full-frame DSLR with a high-resolution sensor. It's a great choice for portrait photos with many lens options. That said, its autofocus system isn't as sophisticated as the Sony α7 IV's, and unlike the Sony, it doesn't have in-body image stabilization. See our review
  • Canon EOS R: The Canon EOS R may have been discontinued, but if you can find one, it's a great deal for portrait photographers. With a high-resolution sensor and EVF, it's well-suited to photography. However, it isn't as well-rounded as newer models. See our review
  • Canon EOS R6 Mark II: The Canon EOS R6 Mark II is a great alternative to the Sony α7 IV if ergonomics are a priority. The cameras are evenly matched for photography, but the Sony does have a higher-resolution sensor, and the Canon has fewer native lens options and practically no third-party options. See our review
  • Nikon D780: The Nikon D780 is a fantastic full-frame DSLR that feels better in hand than the Sony α7 IV. Plenty of lenses are available for portraits, and it has a great hybrid AF system. However, it lacks IBIS and has a lower-resolution sensor than the Sony camera. See our review

Recent Updates

  1. Aug 16, 2023: Moved the Canon EOS R to Notable Mentions, as it's been discontinued, and replaced it with the Fujifilm X-T5 as the 'Best Upper Mid-Range Camera For Portraits'.

  2. Jun 19, 2023: Made minor touch-ups to text for clarity.

  3. Apr 20, 2023: Replaced the Canon EOS 90D with the Nikon Z 5 as the 'Best Mid-Range Camera For Portraits'.

  4. Feb 14, 2023: Replaced the Nikon D5600 with the Sony a6400 as the 'Best Budget Camera For Portraits' and added the Canon EOS Rebel T7 / EOS 2000D as the 'Best Cheap Camera For Portraits'.

  5. Dec 16, 2022: Reviewed picks for accuracy and clarity; no change to recommendations.

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best cameras for portrait photography for most people to buy, according to their budget. We factor in the price, feedback from our visitors, and availability (no cameras that are difficult to find or almost out of stock in the U.S.).

If you'd like to choose for yourself, here's the list of all our camera reviews. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There is no single perfect camera. Personal taste, ergonomic preferences, and shooting habits will matter more in your selection.